To make Fruit Charlotte: Butter 24 eight-ounce ramekins, using 8 tablespoons of the butter. In large sauté pan, melt remaining butter and brown bread until golden on both sides. Cut 48 circles of bread the same diameter as ramekins. Trim crusts from remaining bread and cut into rectangular pieces to fit the sides of the ramekins. Place a bread circle in the bottom of each ramekin and line sides with rectangles of bread.Whisk eggs and sugar together until blended; whisk in milk, soy sauce, vanilla and cinnamon. In separate bowl, toss together cranberries, raisins, dates and walnuts. Place 1/4 cup fruit mixture in each ramekin. Pour milk mixture over fruit; place bread circles on top and press down gently to moisten bread. Let stand at least 10 minutes.
Place ramekins in shallow hotel pan; add hot water to come 3/4 up sides of ramekins. Cover pan with foil and bake in 350° oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 30 minutes more, or until top slice of bread is browned and custard is set. Cool before unmolding.
To make Caramel Sauce: In heavy saucepan, heat sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it caramelizes to a rich golden brown. Remove from heat and cool for 1 minute; slowly pour in water. Return pan to heat, add soy sauce and lemon juice and simmer until caramel dissolves and sauce is syrupy. Add vanilla and butter; simmer until butter is melted and sauce is smooth. Hold warm or refrigerate until service; reheat over hot water bath. Yield: 3 cups.
For each serving, to order: Place 1 Fruit Charlotte, top side down, in center of plate. Pour 2 tablespoons Caramel Sauce over and around charlotte; garnish with 4 date halves and 1 tablespoon cranberries.
Recipe by Andrew Selz of C.H.E.F. Culinary School, Peeksill, NY. "Secret Ingredient" Category Winner, 2002 Kikkoman Soy Sauce Masters Recipe Contest